My experiments without mom

A peculiar situation on the domestic front. Each time I visit my parents I resolutely decide to be on my guard against sloth. But after a week or so, it starts to infiltrate into my brain like an old familiar friend and I just lie around and … eat… and sleep. This is exactly why I decided to travel in the first place. People often think that travellers travel coz of an itch in their pants to see places, have new experiences and for spiritual growth. Nonsense! Mostly its because we have nothing better to do and have some spare cash lying around. Yeah guys go on and be jealous !

That's my story anyway. Too many comforts and life slowly slips into auto gear and Pan starts to wither away. Life becomes predictable and I start taking people and things for granted. Undoubtedly if I live in Trivandrum all the time, it’s a very shitty place to live in. It’s only because I travel to even more shitty places that Trivandrum looks hopelessly perfect to me now. My friends here just don’t get it.

As I was saying, a peculiar situation at home. The major causative factor for sloth is mom, or her indulgence. (We have a saying in Malayalam which means if something's shitty in your life , blame it on mom ! )This holiday I really decided to cut the sloth. I packed off mathaji to an Ayurvedic centre for 10 days to rest and heal her worsening arthritis. Rest from 35 years of non stop labour. I expected her to swoon and thank me endlessly but all she could think about was how we were going to eat ! 

So as she was chilling out, getting her systems tuned and oiled, it was up to sis and me to enter the dreaded space called kitchen. Mom had helpfully left behind recipies of some dishes we could attempt. The opening day’s performance, dosa was a runaway success. I’m now a certified Ghee roast specialist. Ha that was easy! Somewhere in the middle of the 2nd day, Dad inexplicably not satisfied with our excellent culinary skills, gave full powers to the maid to manage lunch and dinner. Apparently our innovations with coconut, chillies and coriander were just not working for him! But sis and I brushed aside this minor setback  and held our fort for breakfast. Dad was forced to eat half cooked appams and passable (just) upmas. 

But it was all good  fun and more importantly woke me up in the morning instead of stumbling out of bed with The Hindu. On the plus side of life without amma, the house is quieter and I get nagged less. The fridge is half empty because we chucked out all the unidentifiable fungal food stuff. Some of the objects excavated were turned over to the Archeological Survey of India.

So if you’re experiencing apathy in your life, blame it on mom but at the same time why not give her a break? Get zing back into your life and learn the hard way that the life in the kitchen ain't no cat walk !

My 5 best thumps !

The title might have got a fair number of you excited if you mistook thumps for humps. Apologies!  Blogadda is trying to get bloggers to write about five instances when they really felt like whacking someone.

Five occasions  when I would really liked to have got physical :

1.    On a recent 2 months yoga course, there was this guy who never spared any opportunities to be the centre of attention. He put his hand up for everything. Yeah the obligatory over enthusiastic guy in every class. He was instrumental in motivating us to volunteer for an NGO to pick rubbish from the street. But conveniently on the days when we needed to go out and pick stuff he was ‘sick’. On the last day of the course, a Canadian camera crew turned up to shoot a documentary about the NGO. They only wanted those who had regularly volunteered to be part of the shoot to make it look more natural. Unashamedly, our man was first in the line for picking rubbish .It took all my yogic abilities not to give in to the temptation to strangle him. But due to Health and Safety regulations (Canada), all of us were required to wear masks that day. So no one was recognizable, including our hero!

2.    Once on a skiing trip I found myself in a dorm with a guy who thought his moral duty to share his love for loud phone music with the world. The music was always on whatever he did, wherever he went! In the loo. Changing clothes. Walking. In the mess. Farting. Skiing. Flirting. How can I forget him trying to seduce a girl by pumping up the tinny volume, shaking his skinny ass and winking in her direction? Sublime! Our complaints fell on his obviously deaf ears. But during our time together I would get the urge to rearrange his facial anatomy at least once during the day! 
Conversations can lead to humping (for some lucky guys), but in my case they more often lead to imaginary thumping. 2 such instances…

 3.  The setting: a wedding in Kerala.
‘So mone, what are you up to now?’ asks concerned ‘Uncle’

‘Err I'm travelling, Uncle.’

‘Good! Good ! But where is yuar job?’ Ah, the good old mallu accent!

I take deep breath.

‘I’m taking a break from work’

‘But you said the same thing 2 years back!’

I start counting down from 10.

‘Yes uncle, I'm still travelling and loving it’, with plastic smile.

‘Where’s your dad? I have to talk to him. Young men shouldn’t be allowed to wander by themselves.’ Uncle wanders off in search of Dad.

Close to bursting point, but am saved by the curvy single daughter of said uncle who sashays to where I'm standing and asks admiringly, ‘So you really travel full time?'

4. Another conversation with uncle, later in the day:
‘Ah mone, I was waiting to talk to you again’

‘Wow, so was I’, plastic smile.

‘Really, about what?’

‘Err, well, err you know general knowledge, I mean general topics, politics, ble...’

‘Ok Ok, the reason I wanted to talk to you is because your dad is concerned by your lifestyle.’


‘Yes he thinks you should stabilize’


‘You come from a good family, its time you thought about marriage.’

Direct frontal assault.

‘I saw you talking to Anju. What do you think about her?’

‘The …Ahh…you…she’s nice, yes she’s a nice HOMELY girl’. Maybe baldy daddy will get the hint.

‘Ha I knew it. She likes you too. She just told me. I spoke to your dad already.’

‘What the $%$%$%?!!!'

  Now you should settle down and get a job'

‘But…’ I feel a light touch on my arm and turn to see the smile of curvy single Anju. Cold sweat and a thumping/humping feeling!

5. This happened today. I was climbing a newly painted iron spiral staircase to the second floor shop by the side of a busy road. It was so windy that the staircase was shaking! Damn! When I got to the top, pure emptiness! The staircase was a good 2 feet from the shop and propped up by sticks and PVC pipes! I could have just disembarked and had my legs plastered. No warning signs, nothing! Laughing faces all around. Blood pressure shoots up along with embarrassment. I see my reflection in the shop window and feel like thumping, the idiot that I am.             

Cumulonimbus in a well

                        The flickering flashes of light and the gentle grumbling in the sky woke me up today. A nice contrast to the boisterous rhythmic croaking of frogs that put me to sleep. The air was suffused with coolness , the soft sound of rain tempting me to linger more in bed. The monsoons are almost upon us and it's the  time of the year that I love to be in Kerala. The dust and heat no more,all around is intense green and a certain stillness which is not hard to come upon even in a city like Trivandrum. Just go down a side road and soon you will lose the sound of traffic and be surrounded by trees and bird calls. Maybe the blessing of slow 'development' and a militant workforce that puts off the big industries.

                       The first thing I do when I come home is to head for the shower. The water is not brackish like in so many parts of India  but sweet, more so if its from the well. Any house worth it's name in Kerala will have this concentric circular contraption that all children and a few demented adults like me love to gaze down into.There's something quite exciting and forbidden in  leaning over the parapet to peer down into a well, to see the depth , width, the shape and structure of the rings and the inexplicable pull I feel to jump and be submerged in water.

                         Traditionally there is an aluminium pail and a pulley to pull the water up. If the well is not too deep, people, mostly women do it freestyle, without using the pulley but just the rope which is an excellent exercise ! It's a sight I have seen countless times, the woman drawing water from the well and one which still fascinates me. If she's a seasoned hand , there's a sinewy flow to her movements making the whole process look effortless. She releases the rope  first and the pulley rolls fast ,the pail in a free fall motion to the water surface making a characteristic sound loud enough to  let the neighbours know that water is being drawn ! Then the pail hits the water and she tilts the rope slightly in a subtle movement for the water to enter the pail. And now with both hands she pulls the rope down in a rhythmic flow and the pail jerks upward in a see saw motion. The well in the house has a baby well near it as well. It was originally intended to store water from the main well for people not so keen on the exercise benefits of drawing water from such depths. I look down in the deep mother well in the courtyard and glimpse the static dark grey monsoon clouds in its depths...

A tatkal affair

'It's the season of ripe, juicy sweet mangoes,
Of humid heat, threatening clouds and smell of new earth
So does one need more reason to set sail for Kerala? '

Hence I found myself in Rishikesh railway station at 5:45 am for a tatkal ticket. Trains are the cheapest way to travel in India short, long or medium distance. The fares have been frozen for ever and so tickets especially for long distance travel are very popular. Bookings for overnight trains open 2 months before departure date and on some trains get booked within an hour. Unfortunately the train I wanted to board fell in that category. Once a week to Trivandrum, and the decision to go home was taken just a couple of days back. The Railways brought in the tatkal scheme for people like me who wanted the ticket at short notice but dont mind paying the extra odd 150 or 300/-.Bookings for tatkal start 2 days before the journey and on popular routes finish in minutes. So it was crucial that I be first in the queue when the counters opened at 8 am. I was first in the queue but when the action started the reservation clerk started entering the details of people who were not in the queue at all. I learn later that if you care to pay a baksheesh of 100/- per person your details are entered first in the computer. No standing in queues ! 3 minutes and he was still slamming away on the keyboard. The guys at the back thinking that I was just hanging around even after my ticket was issued started heckling me. The clerk finally got to my ticket but by that time I was on the waiting list. I had to take the  ticket anyway and board the train.

Three days on a train is hard enough but without a ticket, well well... I had come prepared mentally so the first    day I slept on the bunks whenever one was free. During the night I just rolled out the bedsheet and lay down on the floor. Anyone trying to duplicate this stunt be warned that it can be only done at ordinary 2nd class sleeper class not the air conditioned coaches. They dont let folks without a confirmed ticket anywhere near the AC coach ! To tell the truth, it was not that uncomfortable except when people crushed my head when they were sleepwalking to use the loo. The timing is important, you unroll your 'carpet ' after more or less everyone goes to 'bed'. There were a fair number of people like me sleeping in the corridors lying down, sitting, standing, etc.

 You feel the train up close , all the little jerks and movements and also the big jolts. Like knowing a woman intimately for the first time when you see that little balck mole on her hip , that knowledge which makes the relationship so special, if you care to notice it. So my relationship with the railways have taken on a whole new intimate level. Be that it maybe I have gone ahead and booked my next ticket well in advance !